Gaugin


one of the leading French painters of the Postimpressionist period was Gaugin, whose development of a conceptual method of representation was a decisive step for 20th-century art. After spending a short period of time with famous Vincent van Gogh in Arles in1888, Gauguin increasingly abandoned imitative art for expressiveness through colour. From 1891 he lived and worked in Tahiti and elsewhere in the South Pacific.


Although his main achievements were to lie elsewhere, Gauguin was, to use a fanciful metaphor, nursed in the bosom of Impressionism. His attitudes to art were influenced by his experience of its first exhibition, and he himself participated in those of 1880, 1881 and 1882. The son of a French journalist and a Peruvian Creole, whose mother had been a writer and a follower of Saint-Simon, he was brought up in Lima, joined the merchant navy in 1865, and in 1872 began a successful career as a stockbroker in the city Paris.


In 1874 he saw the first Impressionist exhibition, which completely entranced him and confirmed his desire to become a painter. He spent some 17,000 francs on works by Manet, Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, Renoir and Guillaumin. Pissarro took a special interest in his attempts at painting, emphasizing that he should \'look for the nature that suits your temperament\', and in 1876 Gauguin had a landscape in the style of Pissarro accepted at the Salon. In the meantime Pissarro had introduced him to Cézanne, for whose works he conceived a great respect---so much so that the older man began to fear that he would steal his \'sensations\'. All three worked together for some time at Pontoise, where Pissarro and Gauguin drew pencil sketches of each other (Cabinet des Dessins, Louvre).


In 1883-84 the bank that employed him got into difficulties and Gauguin was able to paint every day. He settled for a while in Rouen, partly because Paris was too expensive for a man with five children, partly because he thought it would be full of wealthy patrons who might buy his works. Rouen proved a disappointment, and he joined his wife Mette and children, who had gone back to Denmark, where she had been born. His experience of Denmark was not a happy one and, having returned to Paris, he went to paint in Pont-Aven, a well-known resort for artists.